Councilman Jon Russell recently announced his hopes of becoming Culpeper’s next mayor, a seat occupied by Michael Olinger for eight years.
Russell said “Mike’s all right” but eight years in one position is enough and “I feel like our town needs new energy.”
“I think the town’s ready for some new leadership and some new momentum in that position,” Russell said. “Eight years in one position is enough to be able to get done what you want to get done.”
Russell, 45, has been a councilman since 2014 with his current term expiring at the year’s end. He has four children with Sarah, his wife of 18 years. He owns Local Identity Inc., a locally based public relations firm. He also is Culpeper Salvation Army’s former chairman, the Culpeper County Republican Committee’s former chairman and a chamber of commerce member.
Shortly after Russell announced his mayoral bid, a screenshot of a Facebook post he made regarding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot began circulating. The post stated: “Patriots have breached the barricades at the U.S. Capitol.” Russell later removed the post, saying that he did not support the violence or vandalism that unfolded once rioters entered the building. For further details regarding that post, see the story rounding up local officials' reactions to the Capitol riot.
As his campaign launches, Russell said in a news release that “we must not overlook the immediate effects that COVID is having on our community” as “we have lost many good people.”
“Our homeless population has increased and our heroin problem has been elevated. Our people are hard pressed, but not destroyed. As we have done throughout Culpeper’s entire history,
we will remember our losses and build a better town.” Russell said.
Russell said via telephone that his top priority as mayor would be aggressively helping businesses get back on their feet and recruiting new businesses so Culpeper will be strong in a “post-COVID” era. A lot of that, he said, can be accomplished through hands-on work with the chamber of commerce and economic development department.
Noting that visitors’ average stay in Culpeper is 1.5 nights, Russell said his second goal as mayor would be increasing that to an average two-night stay so the locality gets “the full economic impact that we need.”
His third goal would be obtaining private funding to construct a recreation center and pool that would ideally be “in the heart of the town.”
Entering that “post-COVID era,” Russell says in the release that the town “needs new energy to rebuild.”
“In the past year, we have lost too many small businesses and jobs because of heavy handed restrictions coming out of Richmond. As Mayor, I will be an active force in attracting and retaining Culpeper businesses and jobs. We will boost our tourism efforts to reduce the tax burden on our people. We will improve our quality of life by working with private investment to secure more activities for youth and families to do in town.”
Russell said he will seek the Republican committee’s endorsement. Asked how party politics relate to the mayorship, Russell said “it’s really worldview.” He added that his worldview consists of government having limited interactions with citizens while providing basic services.
“What are your core values? Are you doing this because you have a set of core values...Or are you just someone that kind of blows with the wind and doesn’t really have any core principles,” he said.